The eyes of the competitive weightlifting world were on the 73-kg men's class on July 29, and not just for the usual reason of watching China's Shi Zhiyong set or break his own records. There was also the chance that the world's second-ranked lifter, Clarence "CJ" Cummings (also a contributor to Bodybuilding.com's article, "How to Master the Olympic Lifts,") could bring the United States its first men's weightlifting medal since 1984. Barring that, maybe someone—anyone—could at least give Zhiyong and his inspiring Olympic physique a run for his money.
Well, it didn't happen.
Zhiyong was a dominant force from start to finish, only missing his 192-kg (423-lb.) second clean and jerk attempt on a contested no-lift. Undeterred, he added 6 kg on his final attempt—with gold already locked down—nailed it, broke his own world record, and cruised to an 18-kg victory over Venezuelan lifter Julio Mayora.
After cementing his status as probably the strongest pound-for-pound lifter in the world, Zhiyong did what he always seems to do: scream and flex like the 160-pound Incredible Hulk that he is. Mayora, on the other hand, celebrated by nailing a backflip on the platform (4:50 in the video above).
Indonesian lifter Rahmat Erwin Abdullah rose out of the rarely-triumphant B group to take bronze, while Cummings missed four out of his six attempts and finished ninth. But, at just 21 years of age, Cummings' competitive story is far from over.
How athletes trained during lockdowns and quarantines is inevitably part of the narrative of these Olympic games, and Zhiyong was no exception. While serious weightlifting fans could watch highlights here and there in 2020 on the Shenzen Weightlifting Association Instagram page, Zhiyong's followers got to see him in a hotel room struggling to do a Turkish get-up with a 20-kg (44-lb.) kettlebell.
That makes you feel just a little better about your less-than-graceful at-home workouts, doesn't it?